How the CIO/CMO relationship will become the new normal

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For decades, the CIO and the IT team were primarily focused on working with Finance, executive management, and key functional groups such as Manufacturing. However, as the use of technology in marketing activities has grown exponentially, and “customer journey” data has become a critical corporate resource, CIOs and CMOs are working more closely.

Not only are the longer-term trends leading to a closer and deeper relationship between the CMO and CIO, but the current pandemic crisis is also driving more cooperation as the parties adjust to the “new normal.” The growth in digital consumer interaction demands it.

“The shift to digital requires greater CMO/CIO interaction and a stronger bond for several reasons,” says Cynthia Stoddard, CIO and SVP of Adobe. “And the two parties are finding that they each bring skills that, when combined, can improve the customer journey. Historically, the CMO brought marketing and customer journey expertise, while the CIO had knowledge and expertise of data assets. But today IT is customer-centric, and marketing is data-oriented.”

There are specific outcomes that will result from the combination of proficiencies. The most common are likely to include:

  • Improving digital customer solutions: As the online experience becomes the primary medium for the customer journey, it’s incumbent upon brands to improve current customer-facing apps and web properties, while deploying new ones. To do this quickly and at scale is far simpler when the CIO and CMO cooperate. The ability to leverage the CIO’s experience with technical issues will allow marketing teams to focus on the solution and innovation.
  • Optimizing and protecting the huge amount of new customer journey data: New, and even existing, marketing solutions are generating huge amounts of new data every day. The ability to organize, store, and analyze this data is essential to key marketing goals such as personalization. In addition, protecting any personally identifiable information (PII) in the data is critical. Ensuring that the data is usable and protected is enhanced when the CMO and the CIO work together.
  • Deploying the appropriate mission-critical infrastructure for marketing system: Marketing technology solutions now provide the platform for interacting with the brand. And as interactions have gone digital during the new normal, the resiliency and reliability of these systems are essential. They’re just as mission-critical as any other IT infrastructure that supports the firm. However, many of the legacy implementations cannot meet the necessary service levels. CIOs and CMOs will be working together to ensure that key marketing systems have the same industrial-grade infrastructure as other digital systems.

“A partnership between IT and marketing will leverage the strengths of each team,” notes Stoddard. “And working together ensures that the right technology is in place to scale personalized customer communication across offline and digital channels. In the new normal, it will be very hard for companies to succeed who still work in heavy silos.”

Transformative times call for stronger CMO CIO ties. Marketing systems are moving away from being separate and distinct to becoming an integral part of the entire firm’s IT infrastructure. The skillsets of the CMO and CIO don’t have a great deal of overlap, but they’re highly complementary. Working together, the CMO and CIO will provide the leadership for the next generation of systems that enhance the customer journey.